The commonly-held principle is that money can’t buy happiness. But as with many things in life it really does depend on how you frame the viewpoint. And framing it is very much a money skill to master.
If, as with most interpretations, you start with the self and what it can do “for me” then, sure, there’s no guarantee that all your needs, insecurities and competitiveness nature will be satisfied. Indeed, among the many pieces of research on the subject, there’s a study from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School that our pivotal level of happiness peaks at about $75,000 a year.
The lower a person’s annual income falls below that benchmark, the unhappier he or she feels. But more equally in our culture of more, more, more, no matter how much more than $75,000 people make, they don’t report any major degree of improved happiness.
It might not stop you from looking over the hedgerow to see what your neighbor’s recent retail therapy has resulted in. It also might not stop you fearing that tomorrow it’ll all be gone and you’ll become Joe Average once more. And there’s nothing to stop you from want the riches of John D. Rockefeller.
But what if the ‘money buying happiness’ concept referred to money that was given away and put to work elsewhere? What if it’s about other people’s happiness?
People often say “money isn’t everything”, but it’s far easier to state that when money doesn’t represent the difference between everything and nothing. What if that money paid for a water pump in an African village that had been in desperate need for one?
What if it was used to improve the irrigation in a slum in India, where high child mortality rates were directly aligned with poor sanitation there?
Or maybe the money was used to pay for an organ transplant that a family would never have been able to afford otherwise. Or it could be simply all about being able to put food on the table for your family at Christmas. It’s all about the context of your reality.
In a broader context, I’m not saying that money is the solution for everything, or even that individuals can’t be happy if they come into wealth. Lottery winners can live very happy, fulfilled lives. And so can street cleaners that are happy with their lives and loves.
But if the story is viewed in the context of how we can all connect better on a human level, and if you view your own personal finances and goal of being a money master in the same manner, then money can be a force for good.